Tennessee

The impeachment of President Trump has revived interest in the first president ever to be impeached over 150 years ago, Andrew Johnson.

In Greeneville, Tenn., the site where Johnson's former home is preserved has seen a recent surge in visitors, similar to a spike around the time that former President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998.

WPLN News

Tennessee may soon have one of the most generous paid family leave policies in the country. Gov. Bill Lee made an executive order on Tuesday, offering new parents or an employee needing to care for a sick relative up to three months off with pay.

Like most employers, the state has to give people time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. But it doesn’t have to pay them while they’re gone, so most expectant mothers rely on saved-up sick time and vacation.

That’s what Sarah Tanksley, a spokesperson for TennCare, did when she was gave birth to twins in 2014.

 


Stephen Jerkins/WPLN

 Two Republican lawmakers want to give the legislature the power to decide whether refugees should be allowed to resettle in Tennessee.

The bill, filed by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, is the latest in a contentious debate between the legislature and Gov. Bill Lee.

The new proposal would create a two-step process. First, local governments would have to weigh in.

 


Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

A new gun law that will take effect January 1, 2020 in Tennessee has raised some concerns — even among gun-rights advocates.

Many are calling the measure unsafe because it drastically cuts the training required to get a handgun permit.

Jim Mauth, a firearm instructor in Franklin, is one of them.

 


Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

There’s going to be a new debate next year about the future of the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Tennessee Capitol.

The announcement came on Wednesday afternoon after pleas from activists — and some Republican lawmakers.

Tennessee Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, the chairman of the State Capitol Commission, committed to having a meeting before the end of February.

“There are varying and diverse and passionate opinions about this,” McWhorter said during a commission meeting to discuss unrelated matters. “So, for that reason it requires serious time and effort.”

Sen. Alexander's office

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s compromise to end surprise medical bills held together for only one day. Now, it has fallen apart as Congress prepares to take a holiday break.

In announcing the delay, Alexander took a swipe at the handful of physician staffing firms who’ve been working against him.

“The only people who don’t want this fixed are the people who benefit from these excessive fees, including the private equity groups which control three of the largest companies that handle billing and staffing for emergency rooms,” Alexander said in a written statement.

Blake Farmer/ WPLN

Nashville General is the city-funded, safety-net hospital. For a patient without insurance, this is supposed to be the best place to go. But its emergency room has been taking more patients to court for unpaid medical bills than any other hospital or practice in town.

A WPLN investigation finds the physician staffing firm that runs the ER at Nashville General sued 700 patients in Davidson County this year — roughly the same number as all the other hospitals and physician staffing firms combined.

They include uninsured patients like Sonya Johnson, a social worker and single mother from Antioch.


TN photo services

Now the block grant ball is in the federal government’s court.

Tennessee’s Medicaid agency has spent months redesigning TennCare, after the Trump administration asked for so-called block grant requests. The 50-page proposal, which could reshape a program that serves more than 1.4 million Tennesseans, was officially submitted Wednesday afternoon, though with some last-minute changes.

State officials acknowledged that nearly all of the roughly 1,800 comments received in recent weeks were from people concerned about cuts to existing benefits. That’s because the block grant concept has historically been intended to save money, and Gov. Bill Lee calls the negative response “completely understandable.”


AMERUNE / Flickr

Fisk University is looking to reclaim its status as a thought leader in race relations in America. It plans to resurrect a defunct but venerable racial justice program.

Fisk’s Race Relations Institute was launched in 1942 by Charles S. Johnson, a well-known African American sociologist and a president of the University.

The once-prominent department helped draft strategies around the desegregation of public schools and the armed forces.  

But it was essentially shuttered around 2005, and now Fisk is re-launching it as the school’s Social Justice Institute.

 


Flickr Creative Commons

Tennessee is not going to reach an ambitious educational goal set by the state in 2015, data released Wednesday shows. 

The state had hoped to outperform the national average by the end of the decade. But Nation's Report Card shows that student growth in the state has remained stagnant.

In 2015, the Tennessee Department of Education set a 5-year goal to move the state academically from the bottom half to the top half of all states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the largest standardized test administered nationally by the federal government.

 


Hannah Norman/KHN Illustration

TennCare will soon cover ride-hailing services to ferry patients to and from doctors visits. On Thursday, Lyft announced an expansion of its medical transports in five states, including Tennessee.

Medicaid programs like TennCare already fund transportation for patients. But many have complained of rigid schedules and rules, like not allowing parents to bring along their kids. The issue was a key takeaway in Gov. Bill Lee’s health care listening tour over the summer.

Megan Callahan, vice president of health care at Lyft, says her drivers can’t accommodate every patient with special medical needs.

 


While thousands of cities and counties have banded together to sue opioid makers and distributors in a federal court, another group of plaintiffs has started to sue on their own: hospitals.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

Members of the United Auto Workers union in Spring Hill cited the future of temporary workers at General Motors as a main reason why many of them voted against a deal meant to end the weeks-long strike with the automaker.

The Spring Hill local has rejected the proposal 51% to 49%, in one of the first votes on the contract nationwide.

Beth Bigley, 44, has been in the picket line for the last six weeks. She voted against the tentative agreement presented on Monday, mostly because she feels temporary workers are still not getting what they deserve.

Sharyn Morrow/Flickr

Tennessee's top lawyer and his counterparts in three other states announced Monday that they've negotiated a deal with the opioid industry worth nearly $50 billion, a pact that they hope will change the behavior of opioid makers and distributors.

The proposed legal settlement includes about $22 billion in cash and nearly $29 billion in opioid addiction treatment, including suboxone provided free of charge. And the deal would set new rules for drug companies, says Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, such as having to set up compliance departments that look for red flags, like suspiciously large purchases.

 

  

ANNE MARSHALL / WPLN

Tennessee's incarceration rate is on the rise — defying a nationwide trend. A new task force appointed by Gov. Bill Lee hopes to change that.

But for now, the group's focus is narrow: reducing the number of felons who end up back behind bars after they're released.

The Criminal Justice Investment Task Force says new data revealed at its first meeting will inform policy proposals. And the numbers were striking.

 


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